They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting.
They are published online in All the existing primary research on a topic that meets certain criteria is searched for and collated, and then assessed using stringent guidelines, to establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence about a specific treatment.
These healthcare trial references are entered by Cochrane groups.
The main way of finding health care studies is by looking in electronic databases (such as MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL) using special search terms.
A systematic review summarises the results of available carefully designed healthcare studies (controlled trials) and provides a high level of evidence on the effectiveness of healthcare interventions.
The review authors set about their task very methodically following, step by step, an advance plan that covers: A protocol is the plan or set of steps to be followed in preparing a review.
A protocol for a systematic review clearly describes why the review is needed (the review question), what the review is about (the healthcare context of the review), and how the reviewer authors will go about developing the review.
It details how they will seek, select as relevant, critically appraise studies, and collect and analyse data (combine data and check for significance to the healthcare situation) from the included studies.
The reviews are updated regularly, ensuring that treatment decisions can be based on the most up-to-date and reliable evidence.
New online learning is now freely available to anyone who is interested in an introduction to evidence-based health care, Cochrane evidence and how to use it.